Cuba's 'Self-Employed' Are Not 'Agents of Change'

Sunday, June 19, 2016
Well-intended supporters of Obama's Cuba policy argue that the island's "self-employed" can be "agents of change."

Of course, that's difficult to reconcile with Obama's actual policy of strengthening Castro's military dictatorship -- through political recognition and business deals.

Never mind also that the Castro regime created "self-employment" precisely as a tool for stability during turbulent financial times -- pursuant to the collapse of the of the USSR in the 1990s and Venezuela's downward spiral starting in 2010.

But even the well-intended premise is (unfortunately) misguided -- for Cuba's "self-employed" are among the most subservient to the regime (in order to be able to function) and their ultimate goal is to emigrate (rather than fight for change on the island).

The example below is case and point.

Meanwhile, under Obama's policy, Cuba's real "agents of change" -- the courageous dissidents that risk their lives for a better future for all Cubans -- are being relegated to business interests.

By Ivan Garcia in Translating Cuba:

Havana, Where Businesspeople Make Money So They Can Emigrate

While it is still dark outside, Nelson gets up, turns on the light and quickly gets dressed. He then goes to the kitchen, makes a cup of coffee and with his calculator starts balancing his books.

Yesterday he had a bad day at work. Two months ago he opened a cafe that sells Italian food and yesterday sales were flat. “I make on average two thousand pesos (about ninety dollars) a day. My goal is to raise all the money I can to get my family out of Cuba,” says the fifty-two-year-old entrepreneur.

Last fall he spent two months in Tampa, where he worked as a construction assistant and a waiter at a restaurant on the outskirts of the city.

“With the money I saved, I opened this business. For over twenty years I made pizza, pasta and lasagna at state restaurants. Now my dream is to be able to permanently emigrate with my wife and four kids. There’s nothing for us here. In the United States my family and I will have better opportunities,” says Nelson as he and two assistants prepare pizza dough.

This is Nelson’s dream. “The state still views us with suspicion. As long as these guys are in still power, Cuba won’t change.” And every night he counts his money, balances his books and figures out how much he still needs to get on a plane.